The FINAL Challenge! Submit Your First Chapter and Synopsis
Now it’s your turn!
Are you ready to show us what you’ve got? Well, we’re ready to read your work. It’s time for you to fine-tune your opening chapter and synopsis. Here are some pointers to get you started:
The Opening Chapter:
- Begin your story in an exciting place. Does your story open with the heroine picking out yarn to use for her next sweater? Or maybe the hero can’t decide if he should put skim or whole milk in his coffee. These more mundane activities can be woven into the main story, but for the opening chapter, you should work on luring the editor/reader into your tale.
- Remember not to begin with a gimmick. Often, a sex scene can seem a cheap way to get a reader’s attention. For a romance, it’s easier for the reader to buy into the sex scene if there’s an emotional investment in the characters. We want to know a little more about them before intimacy.
- Try to steer clear of clichés. For example: the heroine is rushing out the door and runs smack into the hero. You know what clichés are because you read them over and over again—and you can almost see them coming. When you’re tempted to insert a cliché, try to put it off.
- Strong points of view win the day. You could have a character doing a mundane action if the point of view is fun to read. The heroine could be brushing her hair, if she’s planning something devious, something exciting. This is often the exception to the rule, but if you have a strong voice, you can get away with a lot more in the opening chapter.
- End your chapter with a bang. This is what film buffs might refer to as the “inciting incident,” which propels the character on the journey. The heroine could realize she’s trapped in the elevator with her (very good-looking) enemy; the hero’s estranged wife could inform him that she’s pregnant with his child. You get the picture. Think of this ending as the ultimate challenge for your characters. And, of course, by the end of this chapter, we will be desperate to find out if they decide to take the challenge.
- Keep the chapter to twenty-pages or under (with 12 point size so that we can read it). Please double-space your prose, using one-inch margins.
Ah, yes, the dreaded synopsis. We know they’re not fun to write, but they can help keep you on track and they help editors in a variety of ways. The ideal synopsis is between 5-7 pages, showing a clear vision of the story’s arcs and characters. As editors, we want to see how the characters develop and how they’re tested. In addition, we need to gauge if your story builds in momentum to the end. If not, we can help you find ways to strengthen your plot. Often, if a synopsis is too short, the writer isn’t quite sure what he/she is writing. If the synopsis is too long, the writer might be bogging down her/his story with too much detail and not enough romance. You want to get to that “just right” synopsis-length that gives a clear overview.
So, the question is: Are you ready? If so, we would love to read your first chapter and synopsis. Making sure to put “SYTYCW 1st Chapter & Synopsis” in the subject heading of your email, feel free to submit to the same email address: firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2010 at 6pm EST. Our panel of experts will read every one of your proposals and consider pursuing submissions further. We will update you on our results by January 31, 2011. We thank you for your fabulous participation this week. Good luck!